By Stephen Enatu
The Civil Society in Teso has revealed that the eviction of 16,000 Iteso who were living in Abim District was manipulated and driven by a fake investor.
The Iteso who had lived in Morulokwang land covering 24 villages and 7 parishes were evicted around 15th-27TH December 2019 by Uganda wildlife Authority.
The operation that was commanded by Captain Charles Okhuta was based on false claims that they were occupying a game reserve, this website has learnt.
Vincent Ochen, the executive Director Sugur Development Agency while speaking to this reporter yesterday 9th December 2020 said, a report from the State House Anti-Corruption Unit indicates that the eviction was influenced by a fake investor through the Member of Parliament for Labwor County, Michael Ayepa in Abim District.
He said from the time of the eviction, over 1000 people are living in camps in dire-need for help and over 20 have died.
Additional reporting by Markson Omagor
Last year more than 10,000 people were evicted from three villages said to be part of Bokora wildlife conservation area between Abim and Kotido districts.
The eviction left 78 homes in Morulokwang, Okwai and Oworopa villages destroyed.
While residents said the exercise was being conducted by the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), the agency’s spokesperson, Mr Simplicious Gessa, said he was not aware of it.
Mr Gessa said UWA’s conservation zone extends to the area but said he was not certain where the eviction was taking place.
Ms Grace Asio, one of those evicted from Okwai Village in Nyakwai Sub-county, Abim District, said those who carried out the exercise refused to identify themselves.
“We asked the officers for eviction letters but they never showed them to us. In the first place, the people who had told us to leave the area by December 16 were not UWA officials. We are now disturbed by the eviction,” she said.
The contested area was majorly inhabited by residents from Ngora and Serere districts. The settlers claim to have bought the land after the co-existence accord was signed between Karamoja and Teso leaders in 2004. The pact was signed as a measure to root out animosity between the Iteso and Karimojong.
Mr Lomoi Okwang, who claims to have witnessed the signing of the accord in 2004, said UWA’s conservation boundaries do not extend to the area. Mr Okwang accused the area MP, Mr Michael Ayepa, of conniving with unknown people to evict the residents.
“Our area MP is trying to fight us out of this place because we never voted for him. He is seen time and again moving here with people of UWA. We don’t know his interests,” he said.
However, Mr Ayepa dismissed the claims, insisting that the contested land belongs to Bokora wildlife conservation area. He claimed that some people have defrauded hundreds of residents of their money and cattle through allocating them land that belongs to UWA.